Meet the Icelandic Chairmanship Team

Einar Gunnarsson

Ambassador Arctic Affairs
Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials

Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson has been working with MFA's Arctic Affairs Division since August 2018 preparing for Iceland's Chairmanship. Prior to that he served as Iceland's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York from 2015 where he, amongst other responsibilities, chaired the Third Committee of the General Assembly during its 72nd session.

Mr. Gunnarsson was the Permanent Secretary of State of the MFA from 2009 until 2014, dealing with the aftermath of the economic crisis of 2008. Before serving as Permanent Secretary of State Mr. Gunnarsson held various positions in the Icelandic Foreign Service, such as Director of International Trade Negotiations, Director of Personnel, Deputy Permanent Representative to the International Organizations in Geneva, Counsellor at the Mission of Iceland to the EU in Brussels, Counsellor in the External Trade Department and Legal Advisor in the Defence Department in the MFA.

After finishing his law studies from the University of Iceland in 1992 Mr. Gunnarsson worked as a lawyer and a District Court Advocate at a private law firm in Reykjavik until he joined the Foreign Service in 1996.

Tel: +354 545 9915 Mail: eg@mfa.is

Bryndís Kjartansdóttir

Senior Arctic Official for Iceland
Director of Arctic Affairs

Read the interview that Bryndís gave upon becoming Iceland‘s Senior Arctic Official here

Ms. Bryndís Kjartansdóttir has been the Icelandic SAO since January 2018 and the MFA’s Director for Arctic Affairs from the same time. She joined the MFA in 1998 and has since worked on EU relations and the EEA Agreement, UNESCO and the UN sustainable development agenda, Arctic issues and Nordic cooperation, trade and export services and EU Accession Negotiations. She has been posted in Paris, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

Previously, before joining the MFA and after graduating from the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium, she worked in the EFTA Surveillance Authority in Brussels as an expert in free movement of goods.

Tel: +354 545 8973 Mail: bk@mfa.is

Contact the Icelandic Chairmanship Team

Aðalheiður Inga Þorsteinsdóttir

Aðalheiður Inga Þorsteinsdóttir

Counsellor, Arctic Affairs; Deputy SAO & SDWG Head of Delegation

+(354) 545-7971
ath@mfa.is

Sólrún Svandal

Sólrún Svandal

Senior Adviser, Arctic Affairs

+354 545 7331
sss@mfa.is

Magnús Jóhannesson

Magnús Jóhannesson

Special Adviser for Arctic Affairs

+354 545 9965
magnus@mfa.is

 Jóna Sólveig Elínardóttir

Jóna Sólveig Elínardóttir

Senior Adviser, Arctic Affairs

+354 545 7985
jonasolveig@mfa.is

Iris Dager

Iris Dager

Temporary Officer

+354 545 7421
iris.dager@mfa.is

Stefán Skjaldarson

Stefán Skjaldarson

Ambassador; Chair of the Arctic Council SDWG

+354 545 9933
stefans@mfa.is

Icelandic Chairmanship News

  • Interview with Magnús Jóhannesson, the Special Coordinator on Plastics

    Magnús Jóhannesson is the Council’s designated special coordinator on plastics, marine litter. In this interview, the former Director of the Arctic Council Secretariat speaks about the plastics issue in the Arctic, the Arctic Council’s efforts to tackle the issue and his new role within the Icelandic Chairmanship team.

  • Interview with SDWG Chair Stefán Skjaldarson

    Stefán Skjaldarson is the new Chair of the Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG). Growing up in one of the most remote parts of northeast Iceland, he got to know the scarcities of an Arctic childhood until education and eventually his work in the Foreign Service of Iceland drew him out into the world. Chairing SDWG is a return to the Arctic Council for Stefán Skjaldarson. He was involved in the Rovaniemi Process – a forerunner of today’s Council – and took part in the preparatory meetings for establishing the Arctic Council. In this brief interview, he speaks about experiences and inspiration guiding his work for SDWG over the coming years.

  • First meeting during Iceland's Arctic Council Chairmanship

    On 18-19 June 2019, Arctic Council delegates gathered in Reykjanesbær, Iceland, for the first Senior Arctic Officials’ executive meeting during the Chairmanship of Iceland (2019-2021). Amongst other things, the Senior Arctic Officials, joined by the Permanent Participants and representatives of the Council’s Working Groups, discussed initiatives falling under Iceland’s priority themes.

  • Towards an international symposium on plastics in the Arctic

    In April 2020, the Icelandic government and the Nordic Council of Ministers will host an International Symposium on the Threat of Plastics to the Arctic and Sub-Arctic Marine Environment. The aim of the symposium is to gather the best available knowledge on plastics in the Arctic and to find solutions for tackling the issue. Registration is already possible and the call for abstracts will open on 1 July 2019.

  • Arctic Council Ministers meet, pass Chairmanship from Finland to Iceland, Arctic States conclude Arctic Council Ministerial meeting by signing a joint statement

    At the 11th Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in Rovaniemi, Finland, Ministers of the eight Arctic States, leaders from the six indigenous Permanent Participant organizations and the Chairs of the six Working Groups of the Arctic Council met to mark the passing of the Chairmanship from Finland to Iceland. In the Rovaniemi Joint Ministerial Statement, the Arctic States reaffirmed the Council’s commitment to maintain the Arctic as a region of peace, stability and constructive cooperation. Additionally, Finland’s Foreign Minister Timo Soini released a Chair’s statement, summarizing the Council’s achievements and giving guidance for the next two years. The International Maritime Organization was accredited as a new Observer.